Hooray! That is my instant, initial reaction to the roster cuts announced Saturday -- and over the past few days -- as they have trimmed their roster to reach the 53-man regular-season limit. That is not because I am happy anyone got cut. Each player who was ever part of the Giants' 90-man roster poured everything had into either starting or continuing an NFL career. Getting turned away at the door is never easy, or something that should be celebrated.
Here is the full list:
Contracts terminated: LB Jameel McClain, FB Henry Hynoski, WR James Jones, CB Chykie Brown, S Jeromy Miles, LB Ashlee Palmer
Placed on IR: S Nat Berhe (calf), OL Brett Jones (knee)
Waived: TE Adrien Robinson, OL Adam Gettis, OL Emmett Cleary, OL Sean Donnelly, WR Julian Talley, RB Kenneth Harper, QB Ricky Stanzi, DT Dominique Hamilton, DE Brad Bars, LB Cole Farrand, CB Chandler Fenner, CB C.J. Conway, PK kicker Chris Boswell. Wide receiver Corey Washington (shoulder) was waived/injured.
Guys like Steve Weatherford and Hynoski were valuable members of a Giants' championship team, and good people to boot. The Giants also cut the veteran McClain, opting for the upside and athleticism of Uani Unga. There were several other interesting moves, going back to the cuts from 90 to 75 players when offensive lineman Brandon Mosley was waived/injured. Celebrating their release, or that of any individual player, just isn't right. What is worth celebrating is what seems to be the over-arching goal behind what the Giants have done over the past week in constructing their current 53-man roster.
What is it that they appear to have done? Let go of the past. Admitted some of their draft mistakes. Moved into the future. Tried to reshape this roster and give this team a different look and feel from the one that simply hasn't been good enough in recent years. Finally! That, if you are a Giants fan, is worth celebrating. In recent seasons the Giants are open to the criticism that they kept too many players because of what they used to be able to do, or simply because they drafted them and were too stubborn to move on from them. Not the case this time around. Even if Jayron Hosley and Markus Kuhn are, at least for now, still part of the roster.
There are 16 players (30.2) percent of the roster either did not play a game for the Giants last season or were not with the Giants at all.
"It's what you see throughout the league," head coach Tom Coughlin said. "I think that sometimes, to be honest with you, that number and that percentage is a good thing. Because you do need the constant (roster turnover). It happens naturally, but it's a constant as you try and improve. You wouldn't think that a team who won six games (the Giants' 2014 win total) would stay where they are. Well, they're not. You have to try another direction."
The roster is sure to be adjusted with waiver wire/free agent pickups, perhaps in the next day or two, perhaps after Week 1 of the regular season. For now, though, let's break down the existing 53-man roster.
Eli Manning, Ryan Nassib
Running back (4)
Rashad Jennings, Andre Williams, Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa
If this move had been purely about who was the better fullback, Henry Hynoski would still be a Giant. But, he's not. This move is about all of the things Whitlock can do that make him a different, more versatile, player than Hynoski. There is a use for the fullback in the Giants' offense, but as Alex pointed out earlier Hynoski played only 204 snaps last season. Whitlock can play some, if not all, of those. A move tight end like Jerome Cunningham or Larry Donnell could play some of those. Whitlock brings an energy and a special teams ability that the Giants could undoubtedly use.
Tight end (3)
Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells, Jerome Cunningham
Offensive line (8)
Starters (projected) -- Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, Geoff Schwartz, Marshall Newhouse
Reserves -- John Jerry, Dallas Reynolds, Bobby Hart
Rejoice, Hart fans! The rookie has made the cut. Don't be surprised, though, when the Giants add a veteran tackle for depth.
Wide receiver (6)
Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, Geremy Davis, Preston Parker
Jones and Washington are the odd men out. I didn't see the Jones cut coming.
Defensive tackle (5)
Johnathan Hankins, Jay Bromley, Kenrick Ellis, Cullen Jenkins, Markus Kuhn
Sorry, Giants fans! Kuhn remains on the roster. At least today.
Defensive end (5)
Robert Ayers, Kerry Wynn, Damontre Moore, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, George Selvie
No surprises. We'll see what happens when Jason Pierre-Paul shows up.
Jon Beason, Devon Kennard, J.T. Thomas III, Mark Herzlich, Uani Unga, Jonathan Casillas
The most surprising thing here was that the Giants released veteran Jameel McClain, who was thought of as the insurance policy for the oft- (and currently) injured middle linebacker Jon Beason. The Giants must have confidence that Beason, currently sidelined with a knee injury, will be ready to go Week 1 against the Dallas Cowboys. Thing about McClain is, despite his team-leading and career-high 116 tackles last season he was/is no more than an adequate player, a guy who led a bad defense. He is not an impact player.
Watching the preseason unfold, you had to be nearly certain Unga was making the team. The Giants used him in the first-team nickel package against the New England Patriots, and as a member of all of the special teams groups.
The fact that they cut recently-signed veteran Ashlee Palmer means they must believe Jonathan Casillas (neck) will be ready for the season-opener.
Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley, Trevin Wade, Mike Harris
Could the Giants still be in the market for a veteran to replace one of the reserves on this list?
Landon Collins, Stevie Brown, Brandon Meriweather, Cooper Taylor
With Berhe and Miles injured, it pretty much had to be this way. Unless, of course, the Giants dip into the waiver wire. Or trade for Kam Chancellor.
Plackekicker -- Josh Brown
Punter -- Brad Wing
Long-snapper -- Zak DeOssie
Well, he had a very average 2014 season, which lead to them bringing in another punter to provide competition this offseason. Wing has a big leg, but also is prone to the occasional shank. 2014 aside, he has had a really good preseason, and was the known commodity of the two, hence the trade.
He is still very young (only his second season), and one of the biggest question marks from him after 2014 was his holding. He fumbled at least 3 snaps last season, one which lead to a lucky two-point conversion and the other two which ended horribly in a turnover on downs.